Per the CDC, approximately 800,000 people per year are bitten by a dog. Around 42% of those bites are serious enough for a trip to urgent care or a hospital. Many dog bites involve dogs that are known to the victim. It could be the family pet, a friend’s dog, or a relative’s visiting pet. There can also be attacks by a dog that is not as familiar.
Leash Laws Don’t Always Stop Dogs From Being Loose or Attacking
Leash laws exist throughout the United States to protect people, property, and animals. States, counties, cities, and towns set these laws to prevent attacks on wildlife, farm animals, and people, but they’re also in place to keep dogs from running into traffic and getting hurt or causing crashes. It’s the responsibility of a dog owner to keep a dog on a leash when that dog is off the pet owner’s property. Even in the yard, the pet owner must be able to keep the dog from running away, chasing, or attacking another person or animal.
Colorado has leash laws in place. Dogs are not allowed to run free when they’re off their property. Dogs that do and are caught can be impounded. Any bodily injury suffered by another person is a misdemeanor that can lead to time in jail and fines. Despite these laws, dogs get loose every day.
There are times when a dog may get loose. A limb may fall during a storm and take out a section of fencing. A door or gate may not latch properly. These are not intended, but the pet owner still needs to be proactive and search for the dog and bring it back home. You may also find pet owners who don’t understand leash laws. Some feel their dog is friends and never expect their dog to attack another person. People don’t always realize that a dog that’s friendly with its family may be territorial. It may not be as friendly with a stranger or another dog.
Does that sound like what you’ve experienced? You were walking your dog past a neighbor’s house when the neighbor’s dog ran out and bit you while you protected your dog? You were working in your yard when a loose dog came into your yard and bit you when you tried to get it to leave? A dog bite can be minor or extremely serious. When you’ve been bitten by a dog and have injuries, you should do these things.
Take Care of the Wound
Before you start cleaning up, take photos of the wounds. If that’s not possible, don’t make it a priority, but if you can get photos, do so.
For a minor bite, wash the wound as quickly as you can. Use warm water and soap. Pat dry with a clean towel and apply an antibiotic ointment. Wrap with a clean bandage and monitor the wound. If it becomes painful, swollen, red, or warm to the touch, see a doctor.
If the wound is deep, apply pressure to prevent excessive blood loss. Call your doctor and make an appointment to have the wound cleaned and examined. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, go to the hospital or urgent care and don’t wait for an appointment.
Keep copies of your medical bills and doctor’s orders. If you decide to sue the dog owner, you’ll want copies of these bills for your dog bite attorney.
Talk to the Dog’s Owner
If you can find the dog’s owner, ask for proof that the dog has been vaccinated against rabies. If the owner cannot provide that proof, call your doctor and the police or animal control. The dog will need to be quarantined to see if the dog is rabid and you may need to start the rabies series of vaccinations.
File a Complaint With Animal Control or the Police
Even if the dog’s owner has proven the dog is vaccinated against rabies, file a complaint. It should go on record that the dog bit a person. The dog’s owner will have to be proactive about letting the dog out. The town or city may order the dog be muzzled when outside. If it’s a repeat offense, the dog may be removed from the dog owner’s home. Get names and contact information for the officer and keep a copy of the complaint you’ve filed.
Get Witness Statements
If there were any witnesses, ask them if they’ll share what they saw. Someone may have a video of the attack. That will also help.
Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer
A dog bite can lead to serious infection, painful rabies shots, high medical bills, and damage to the nerves and muscles. Bacteria in a dog’s mouth may lead to a dangerous staph infection known as MRSA. Tetanus and Pasteurella are other risks.
Make sure you speak to an attorney. While your medical insurance may cover some of the cost of care and follow-up treatments, the pet’s owner may be responsible for your medical costs, pain and suffering, and lost income while you recover. It depends on where the bite happened and what led to the bite, but if the dog was off its property and attacked you, you could have a strong case.
Call Jordan, Herington & Rowley personal injury firm for a free consultation. It doesn’t cost you anything to reach out and discuss what happened. The attorney will tell you if you have grounds for a dog bite lawsuit. Let us answer your questions and help you decide what to do next.